#ENDSARS: A Year After, Panel Declares the Lekki Killings A Massacre
The Nigerian army and the police have been indicted by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters for shooting unarmed protestors at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.
According to the Nigerian authorities, no one was killed in the attack on demonstrators at the Lekki Tollgate.
However, the panel highlighted in its report, which was delivered to Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday, that at least 48 demonstrators were killed, injured, or attacked by soldiers who stormed the Lekki toll gate.
“In context, the awful maiming and death of unarmed, defenseless, and unresisting demonstrators while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags while singing the National Anthem can be comparable to a massacre,” the panel concluded.
The panel stated that 11 people were confirmed killed, four were missing and feared dead, and others received gunshot injuries, serious assault, and other injuries as a result of the Lekki shooting.
The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel, which stated that the report is based on extensive evidence gathered during public hearings with key stakeholders and relevant role-players present, emphasized that it believes Dr. Babajide Lawson’s testimony that the situation at the Lekki Branch of Reddington Hospital on the night of October 20, 2020, could be classified as a “mass casualty” case.
The report continued, “The Panel also finds that the majority of the 96 corpses for which Professor Obafunwa conducted autopsies remain unidentified, but they were labeled with #EndSARS, apparently lending credence to the #EndSARS protesters’ claim that security agency shootings resulted in mass deaths within the state.”
It stated that all available evidence, including video evidence from the Lekki Concession Company, LCC, and Serah Ibrahim, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the military used both blank and live fire at the Lekki Toll Gate.
However, Daily Episode reports how Video shows Army sent seven trucks to Lekki toll gate
“Medical evidence on the nature of the demonstrators’ injuries and cases of death, as validated by forensic experts from Sentinel Forensic Limited and Oxygen Consulting UK Limited, was the result of the deployment of live ammunition.”
The evidence before the panel shows that after the Nigerian Army left, the Nigeria Police Force killed protesters by shooting directly at fleeing protesters into the shanties and the lagoon at the Lekki Phase 1 foreshore, close to the Lekki Toll Gate, a floating corpse, and a one-shot close to Serah Ibrahim, “it said.
The military was also chastised by the tribunal for refusing to allow ambulances to provide first aid and assistance to the injured protestors.
The troops’ refusal of ambulances, which could have aided in the timely and effective treatment of injured protesters, was cruel and callous, and it contributed enormously to the significant number of protester deaths and casualties, especially those from the Lekki Toll Gate, it stated.
According to the report, the army’s deployment to Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 was wholly unnecessary in the absence of any reported violence.
“The Panel determines that the police’s ineffectiveness cannot be used to justify the Army’s invitation to Lagos State and deployment to the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th, 2020.”
“Given the number of people assembled at the Lekki Toll Gate, inviting the Army to Lagos State and deploying the Army to disperse such a peaceful assembly should not be an option for a government that has already opened the discussion with the demonstrators,” it stated.
The panel stated that the troops that visited the Lekki Toll Gate were from the 65 Battalion of the 81st Division Garrison, led by Lt Col. Bello and that the military representative at the panel, General Taiwo, contradicted himself when he stated that the protesters were pelting soldiers with stones and bottles, while at the same time he stated that the same troops gave the protesters drinks, which he could not substantiate in the video he viewed. Althogh the Borno governor Babagana Umara Zulum stated that #EndSARS: Destruction of Lagos assets contrived to hurt residents
The panel’s findings emphasized that all individuals involved in the attack on youths should face disciplinary sanctions.
It further noted, “The Panel proposes that the Lekki Toll Plaza be designated as a memorial site for the #ENDSARS Protest by renaming it “#ENDSARS TOLLGATE.”
“The panel advises that the day of October 20th, every year, be designated as a “Toll-Free Day” at the Lekki Toll Gate for as long as the tollgate stands.”
“That the federal government openly apologize to the young for abruptly weakening the protest with their state actors for the sake of reparation, healing, and reconciliation.”
“The government should do everything possible to close the gap of mistrust between the youth and the government.”
“A monument honoring people who died and were injured at the Lekki Toll Gate, with their names engraved on the monument.”